Giving Customers Great Food and Autistic People a Chance
Lee & Marie's Cakery opened yesterday in Miami, offering fresh pastry from locally produced ingredients and a refreshing perspecive on the work abilities of autistic people.
Andy Travaglia says:
“We’re using [the store] as a prototype not just for us but for other companies... An Autistic employee is going to be nothing but a benefit to everybody, not just themselves.”
Her partner, pastry chef Yannis Janssens, has been impressed by what their autistic workers can do:
Chef Janssens said that when he met with adults across the Autism spectrum, he was shocked by their proficiency in learning technical skills in pastry, such as creating decorative pieces from gumpaste, fondant, chocolate, even butter. What was once a weakness -- being hyper-focused on one activity -- was translated into a strength in the kitchen. Also, the Autistic hires are paired with one of the Four Seasons trained staff members for guidance and help. Depending on their comfort levels, the employees can greet customers, bring food to tables or work behind the scenes.